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Among the issues I’ve heard from my clients, many express a feeling of being stuck.  For some, it’s being stuck in a pattern of behavior and for others it’s an emotional rut that they experience on a regular basis. I know first hand how that feels and how strong the desire can be to create new behaviors or  a new emotional reality. Unfortunately, the strength of desire doesn’t make it easier to free ourselves. Understanding what  causes us to get stuck can help though.

When we think about our behaviors, reactions and feelings – they all originate in the brain. Patterns form when we do things the same way repeatedly, because the neurons that fire together, wire together. As an example, if we respond to stressful situations by eating – a connection between stress and eating is formed.  One client illustrated this by explaining that her habit of smoking was hardest to break when she left the house. It seems that she had a ritual of lighting a cigarette the moment she got in her car, so every time she left the house, the urge to smoke was strongest.  There were certainly more deeply rooted triggers, but for our purposes it was very helpful to identify the time frame that her habit had the strongest hold.

So, how can you get out of a rut? It’s not always easy, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Recognize the rut or cycle you’re experiencing.
  2. Determine what the pay-off is for your reaction or habit (think about how it makes you feel and what the results of your habit or reaction are).
  3. Identify the triggers that cause you to begin the repeat behavior (are there ways to diffuse or avoid the triggers?).
  4. Formulate a plan to react to the situation in a more desireable way. Your plan may involve avoiding the trigger, replacing a habit, reframing the experience, or creating a distraction. Keep in mind, if you’re replacing a habit with a different activity or substance, you’ll want to make sure it’s something good for you (’cause it’s likely to become your new “thing”). If you’d rather avoid replacing one habit with another, identify a variety of replacements and mix it up a bit. 

Hopefully these basic steps will be a helpful start for you. If you have deeply rooted patterns that are unhealthy or interfering with your happiness, it is usually a good idea to get assistance. I invite you to check out to see if you could benefit from our help. If you want sessions and you’re not planning a visit to the Columbus, OH area anytime soon, there are several Brain State Technologies affiliates around the country who would be happy to work with you. 

Just let me know if you have any questions or comments; I’d love to hear from you.